Monday, May 12, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Word of mouth marketing

Author: Andy Sernovitz
Price : 24.95 USD

How smart companies get people talking?

As an engineer it’s quite possible to think everything from a technological perspective. Most of technologists think what if they have some ‘cool’ product they can build a business around it. In reality only 15% of overall product cost is spent towards engineering the product. Remaining amount goes for marketing, sales and support functions. No matter how much ever better the product is (in terms of technology, cool features, price and performance), if it is not marketed properly it will be a failure. Most of the technology startups fail not because of their technical expertise, but mainly because of their inability to market and sell the product. In fact, marketing determines the success or failure of these ventures.

Coming to marketing, quite some numbers of methods were invented over the years. For a startup/entrepreneurial venture (which is of my interest), its hard to invest heavily on some of the methods (like advertisements, campaigns, celebrity endorsements etc...) as it will cost them dearly. So what is the cost effective, yet most powerful marketing strategy startups can afford? The answer is 'word-of-mouth marketing' (WOMMA). Especially if you are trying to sell a consumer product/service to retail customers, WOMMA is the way to go.

In his book author Andy Sernovitz, introduces to some of the easy, yet very powerful WOMMA techniques. To start with, he defines WOMMA as 'Giving people a reason to talk about your stuff and making it easier for that conversation to take place'. It’s all about making Consumer to Consumer (C-to-C) marketing happen. There is nothing more powerful than an existing consumer getting another customer. Added to that, it comes for FREE. In core WOMMA is all about building trust with existing consumers and getting more business with help of that.

To start with, it’s critical to understand the power of the end consumer of this era. Thanks to the invention of internet and mobile phones information flow has become seamless. More than a sales pitch, consumers will take their decision based on what their friends, family or some review site says. Just think of examples in your real life about how many times you have taken certain decision (like buying a mobile phone, car, laptop or even real estate) just because it was recommended by someone.

So, how to make the WOMMA happen? The author introduces to four basic rules of WOMMA which are: Be interesting, Make people happy, Earn trust and respect and Make it easy. Then he goes on explaining how to create each of the above mentioned things. Basically any consumer talks about a product/service to his friend/family members mainly because of three reasons:
  • They really like the product/service
  • They want to feel good
  • Feeling connected with that product/service.
At the same time not every consumer will feel the same way. The challenge lies in identifying and helping the consumers to spread the word. The author goes on saying that WOMMA has had a far greater impact on businesses than what we really think. In the next few chapters the author introduces some of the ideas to generate word of mouth. With a good product, great customer experience and consistently making them happy WOMMA can be multiplied in no time. But the end results are really stunning.

Then the author introduces five Ts of word of mouth marketing (Talkers, Topics, Tools, Taking part and Tracking) and goes on explaining about how to go about executing each of these Ts. In each chapters he gives some tips like maintaining a simple website, saying thank you to the consumer, writing blogs, participating in forums, consistent present in the internet, making the recommendation process easier, free samples, leveraging social networking sites, giving cost effective goodies etc. He also emphasizes how important not to do any sales pitch, which will bring down the impression of the company.

I heard from my MBA friends that marketing is a theory subject and people find it very dry. In this book author Andy has made all my perceptions wrong by providing easy step-by-step practical approach to WOMMA. In fact after reading this book, I have become a big fan of WOMMA and Andy. I am following his blogs regularly, where he provides very easy but powerful real life examples.

If you are involved in marketing job this book is a must read. For entrepreneurs, who are bootstrapping their business, this book is a real treasure.

Related links:

BOOK REVIEW : Marketing Mayajalam

BOOK REVIEW : Crossing the Chasm

My experiences with the chasm

2 comments:

Shanmuga said...

Good Review Anna.
Word of Mouth plays a big part in marketing a product. Even though good word of mouth might aid the sale of the product, bad word of mouth would certainly hamper its sale. For example, movies like Boys, Bheema, Alavandhaan, Baba etc which are promoted heavily have flopped due to bad word of mouth even though each of them had some good aspects (songs, special effects etc).

On the positive side, Word of mouth marketing is obviously one of the 'zero cost' ways to promote a product.

Jayakumar Balasubramanian said...

Completely agree. Movies are probably the best example one can think of.